Wednesday, November 25 , 2020

Assiniboia Downs The Insider E-Newsletter

Vol. 15  No. 47 (Issue #766)

By Ivan Bigg


Weekly Horseplayer Report and Fun Stuff

and, remember, if you don’t receive The Insider in the usual way,
you can always find it--and past columns--at

Unleash your inner turkey . . .
. . . by gobbling up fun and betting opportunities over the next five days

  • TODAY: Tampa, a favourite track of ASD players, opens its meet with looming longshots
  • TOMORROW: ASD’s super-handicappers--Kirt, Marshall and Stretch--present their best bets with a view to making your U.S. Thanksgiving Day a profitable memory; Travers unveils his football picks.
  • FRIDAY: Turf Festival continues at Del Mar while Churchill features the marquee race of its fall meet: the storied Grade 1 Clark Stakes that originated in 1875.
  • SATURDAY: It’s Jones vs Jones in a tussle for Handicapper of the Year while $1,750 in prize money is up for grabs in the second-last handicapping tournament of the year; Kentucky Derby prep race adds interest at Churchill.
  • SUNDAY: Del Mar’s fall meet comes to a stirring close with mandatory payouts and the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes for top turf mares on the continent.

ASSINIBOIA DOWNS REMAINS CLOSED AS COVID RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE but online wagering fun continues as does emailing of programs, home delivery and pick-ups by ASD staff. See bottom of column.


Bullet briefs . . .

  • Want three great bets for U.S. Thanksgiving tomorrow? See below.
  • Yay! We've found the mysterious Ed R. See THE WEEK THAT WAS
  • Will Baffert's newest wonder colt win next year's Triple Crown? He's as fast as Justify
  • Woodbine in discussions with province to resume racing
  • The 1970 MB Derby required two starting gates from the East. How did they get here?
THE PLAYER’S CHOICE HANDICAPPING TOURNAMENT GOES SATURDAY while the temperature rises among players hoping to win the prestigious title of Handicapper of the Year. See UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY for Saturday.
Click to enlarge.

Want highlights for the next 10 days? Click calendar.
What tracks are racing in November? Find out  here.
What are today’s $$$ carryovers? See them here.

John Whitehill
“A $50-$100 winner every week”
UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY today. First post time 11:15 a.m.

TAMPA BAY BEGINS TODAY; GOBBLE UP THOSE LONGSHOTS, SAYS JOHN: Tampa Bay Downs, a favourite of ASD players, launches its fall/winter meet today at 11:35 a.m. Tampa and Fair Grounds, which begins its meet tomorrow, are two favourite tracks of John Whitehill, a retired bricklayer who has won multiple handicapping tournaments and represented ASD in Las Vegas in the Horse Player World Series where his partner, Bonnie Simmonds, finished a vaunted seventh several years ago.

Why does John like Tampa and Fair Grounds so much? “Because of the longshots,” he told The Insider.“There’s a $50 to $100 winner every week.” Tampa is also the track of choice for Saturday’s “I won bigger” betting group play.
UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY tomorrow (Thanksgiving). First post time 10:25 a.m.

BEST BETS FROM KIRT, MARSHALL AND STRETCH: What do ASD’s super handicappers like best in tomorrow’s Thanksgiving race cards?
  • Kirt’s pick: CHURCHILL RACE 5 -- #12 Right Trappe (10-1) “Filly is making only her second lifetime start. Ran a huge second while stalking the pace and was forced to alter course down the lane to pass eventual third-place finisher Polished Gem. Polished Gem came back to win very impressively by four. An extra two furlongs shouldn’t be a problem the way Right Trappe finished in debut.” 
  • Marshall’s pick: DEL MAR RACE 3 -- #4 Julius (5-2) “This dropping speed horse should make the lead but could stalk. Brought back to Del Mar by 29 per cent trainer Peter Miller. This 5-year-old gelding has won three of five races over this surface. Add to that the Miller/jockey Joel Rosario win rate of 24 per cent, two bullet workouts and back class and you have a horse that should be ready to roll.”
  • Stretch’s pick: DEL MAR RACE 4 -- #4 Applecross (7-2) “Trainer drops this filly to where she belongs after a trip in which she got shuffled to last on the far turn, only to make a sneaky late run with a solid gallop-out. Watch the replay. The layoff doesn't bother me because she has a nice steady work pattern leading up to a top effort.”

MY VIEW: All of their logic makes good sense so I’ll call on the luck of a turkey wishbone and bet $30 to win on all three of them.

10:25 a.m.
10:30 a.m.
12:00 p.m.
Fair Grounds meet begins
1:00 p.m.
Del Mar
3:00 p.m.
Rideau Carleton (H)
5:35 p.m
. Flamboro (H)
6:00 p.m.
Charles Town and Mohawk (H)

with the Red Carpet Stakes that Manitoba’s Escape Clause entered two years ago. (Remember?) She was dubbed “the darling of Del Mar.”


Lions over Texans
(11:30 a.m.)The Lions are one of the traditional teams that play on U.S. Thanksgiving Day every year (Dallas being the other one). They didn’t look particularly good against the Panthers last week but they were also missing their top receiver Kenny Golladay. They will be back at home for this game where they play much better. 

Washington over Cowboys
(3:30 p.m.): The Cowboys played their best game of the season last week. They went toe to toe with a Vikings team that had been scoring a lot of points lately. But, whenever two NFC East teams play each other, all bets are off because all the teams are equally bad. Alex Smith got his first victory in two years over the Bengals on Sunday and I think he will make it two in a row. 

Steelers over Ravens
(7:20 p.m.): Still the only undefeated team, Pittsburgh will stay that way when the Ravens come to town. Canadian rookie receiver Chase Claypool is one of only four players in NFL history to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games. Baltimore is coming off an overtime loss to the Titans. What’s been to blame? Their injuries or have opposing teams just figured them out? They’ve looked sluggish and their running game is almost non-existent. 

Not only did the Bengals lose the game, but they also lost their franchise QB Joe Burrow for the rest of the season (and possibly next season as well) to a torn ACL....The Panthers started former XFL QB Phillip Walker and rolled right over the Lions....And what turned out to be quite an entertaining game, the Dallas Cowboys held on to get the win over the Vikings. 
UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY Friday. First post time 10:50 a.m.

YOUR MUST-WATCH RACE FRIDAY is the Grade 1 $500K Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs, the marquee event of Churchill’s fall meet. It’s one of the oldest stakes in North America, having originated in 1875, the year Churchill opened. Code of Honor, winner of last year’s Travers Stakes, and By My Standards who raced in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, are among the main contenders in a full field.

Canada’s Say the Word, winner of the Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine is among the contenders in this 1 ½-mile Grade 2 stakes at Del Mar that also is likely to include Arklow and Red King who raced in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY Saturday. First post time 10:50 a.m.

It’s a big day Saturday featuring the second-last Player’s Choice handicapping tournament of the year, a Kentucky Derby prep race, the third day of the four-day Turf Festival at Del Mar and a handful of other noteworthy stakes.

Jones vs Jones
One point separates two Joneses for the prestigious Handicapper of the Year title

Roger Jones leads Trevor Tilston-Jones by one point
While about 60 of you will be seeking to gobble up a share of the $1,750 in prize money in the Player’s Choice handicapping tournament Saturday, greater drama will be playing out for the prestigious title of Handicapper of the Year.

At the top of the leader board with only one point separating them are two Joneses: transit driver Roger Jones and retired salesman Trevor Tilston-Jones. Roger is one point ahead. Meanwhile, a handful of you undoubtedly are plotting a way to pass both of them with major efforts in this Saturday’s tournament and the final tourney next month.

Good luck. See leader board here. Be sure to sign up for this tournament by 5 p.m. Friday by calling the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.

Adding even more excitement to a super Saturday will be the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby prep race, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill that was inaugurated in 1920. The top four finishers among the 2-year-olds will gain qualifying points to enter the Derby.

with three top events: the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap for older turf horses and the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante for 2-year-old fillies.

The Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct, the Delta Mile at Delta Downs and the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill for 2-year-old fillies

With Woodbine racing initially cancelled because of COVID restrictions--but now in the process of possibly being revived--Saturday’s online “I won bigger” betting group will tackle Tampa Bay Downs, a track it generally has had good results playing. Major play will centre on the late pick-5. For $20 shares and programs (Manitoba players) contact Sheri at
UNLEASH YOUR INNER TURKEY Sunday. First post time 11:20 a.m.

Del Mar's four-day Turf Festival--and its fall race meet--comes to a thrilling end with the $300K Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes for top mares and the Cecil B. De Mille Stakes for 2-year-olds. Build your pick-4s, pick 5s and mandatory-pick 6s around these must-watch races. First post 2:30 p.m.

"He's a rocket ship"
Del Mar track announcer can't contain excitement over debut of Baffert colt

Race caller Larry Collmus couldn’t contain his excitement calling a race for 2-year-olds Sunday at Del Mar. “He’s a rocket ship,” he exclaimed as Bob Baffert’s Life Is Good exploded down the stretch without jockey Mike Smith moving a finger. The Into Mischief colt set fractions almost identical to those of Justify who won the Triple Crown two years ago.
Life Is Good (debuted Sunday) -- :21.80, :44.84 and 1:09.08
debut race (Feb 2018) -- :21.80, :44.37 and 1:09.07

Let me guess that this colt will also explode off the page of 24 2-year-olds comprising the first offering of Kentucky Derby future wagers this weekend. He’s listed at 15-1 but I bet he drops to 6-1. See the offerings here. (Note that Canadians can’t wager into this pool because federal regulations don’t permit pools to be carried over to the following year for payout. Canadians may wager on the next future wager pool in February.)


THE MYSTERIOUS ED. R. HAS COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK: Yay, it worked. Running Ed R.’s name in last week’s Insider--and saluting his winning $4,000 U.S. in Santa Anita’s ShowVivor contest-- resulted in his wife, Deb Romanik, emailing The Insider to reveal his full name. “It’s Ed Romanik , better known as Romo,” she said. “ We are so proud of him.  His love for horses goes way back when his dad, Ed Sr., taught him how to read a racing form before he could read an actual children's book.  Ed is a true fan of horse racing near and far and proved he is truly one of the best handicappers.” Indeed, he has. Thanks for putting a full name to an initial, Deb.

In a press release yesterday, Woodbine appeared hopeful that thoroughbred racing will be able to resume Saturday after being cancelled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because of COVID restrictions. The release said the track was having “productive” discussions with the province. Stay tuned.
THE BEST OF BOB by Bob Gates: Imagine two starting gates being shipped 2,000 kilometres to ASD

Did you know that the Downs made arrangements with the Ontario Jockey Club to send two starting gates (6 & 14 stalls) to accommodate the 14 starters in the 1970 Derby? The 1,200-mile trip took four days with a top speed of 30 mph. Gas mileage you ask? How about five miles per gallon. Click here for more about the 1970 Manitoba Centennial Derby. (First published in August 2018)
  • Today thru Sunday: Five action-packed days centred around U.S. Thanksgiving. See full details for each day above.
  • Monday, Nov. 30: Final day for 5% bonus on all eligible wagers
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2: Gulfstream Park’s championship meet begins at 11:35 p.m. Turfway Park begins at 5:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 5: Online “I won bigger” group play; Kentucky Derby prep race, the Remsen, runs at Aqueduct, as does the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Los Alamitos Race Course meet begins at 2:30 p.m.

While Assiniboia Downs and OTBs remain closed due to Code Red coronavirus directives, here’s how to play races, make deposits or withdrawals and get racing programs.

Where can I wager and watch the races?

  • You can wager on your account at or by calling a Telephone Account Betting Operator at 204-885-9800. No account? Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225.
  • Watch the races at or on MTS T.V. channels 179 & 180

How do I open an HPIbet account?

  • You can open an acccount quickly and easily at or by calling the mutuel desk at 204-885-3330 ext. 225.

How do I make a deposit to my HPI account?

  • Deposits can be made at using a Credit Card, Interac Online or PayPal.
  • Deposits can be made by e-transfer. Send e-transfer to and place your HPI account number in the message portion of the e-transfer.
  • Deposits can be made using a credit card by calling 204-885-9800.
  • Deposits can be dropped off at the General Office by using our curbside drop-off service. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.
  • Deposits can be picked up from your home. Please call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make these arrangements in advance.

How do I make a withdrawal from my HPI account?

  • Withdrawals can be made at
  • Withdrawals can be made by calling 204-885-9800

How can I get a Program or Daily Racing Form?

  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be emailed to you. Request the track you want by emailing Sheri at
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms can be obtained via contactless curbside pickup. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 in advance to make those arrangements or email
  • Programs and Daily Racing Forms will be delivered to your home. Call 204-885-3330 ext. 225 to make those arrangements or email

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3975 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3K 2E9
Ph (204) 885.3330 • Fax (204) 831.5348

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